Growing up seeing his dad taking part in fundraising events for the Charity, Owen Sadler always felt a connection with the work we do and the support we offer people like his father.
And now, at 20 years old, Owen has followed in his dad Craig’s footsteps and become a firefighter himself within Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service.
He hopes to continue fundraising throughout his career, as he says he and his father have seen first-hand what a difference the Charity can make.
“I’ve thought about the fire service my whole life, in all honesty,” says Owen. “I’d always see Dad run out on calls and come home, when he’d talk about the different calls and being part of a team, as well as how he’d helped people and all the amazing people he’d met.
“With me, it’s about giving something back to my community that’s looked after me growing up. I’ve never got in any trouble, I’ve always had the fire service and different people help me out. It’s about giving back and helping people.”
Watch Manager Craig says his dedication to the Charity has grown as he’s seen more and more of his colleagues helped.
“I’ve always fundraised for the Charity. I try to do something big every year… obviously Covid put a bit of a stop to my usual stuff, but we’ve carried on,” says Craig, who has previously received one of our Spirit of Fire Awards for his incredible efforts.
“Everyone asks me what my motivator is, and actually I’ve not been supported myself before, but I know people on my watch today, people on both my stations, that wouldn’t be at work or wouldn’t even be employed in the fire service if it wasn’t for The Fire Fighters Charity.
“I’ve benefitted from it, second-hand, because there are people on my watch that are still serving because of it and what it offers. That’s a good enough motivator for me, to keep doing what I’m doing.
“It’s also something everyone’s aware of, if we ever need it. Heaven forbid, especially in the current climate with mental health, not everything goes our way all the time. Knowing we have that support network there – which some jobs don’t have – puts us in a better position. It’s a comfort blanket, without a doubt.”
Now, Craig hopes his son will continue his fundraising legacy alongside him.
Both father and son are working in the same station, often on the same watch, and for Craig it’s been an incredibly proud moment.
“It’s been really strange, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was pushing him in a pushchair and stuff, but now he’s in the fire station with me. It’s all gone in the blink of an eye really!” he says. “I’m super proud of him.”
As for Owen, there’s never been any question that he’d keep the Charity at the forefront of his mind – having done so for years before joining the service himself.
“I think, for my dad and a lot of the people he knows, they’d be in a very different place mentally if it wasn’t for the Charity,” Owen says.
“Even before I was a firefighter, I’d always take part in the fundraising events with him. I helped carry the stretcher on the Great South Run that’s just gone, so I did try my hardest to give back when I wasn’t a firefighter too.
“It’s reassuring, knowing about the Charity. I was told on the lead up to becoming a firefighter that I might see some things that aren’t very nice, and I think the Charity helps you prepare for that, because you know that help’s there if you need it.
“With all the fundraising events I’ve been involved in, that’s the driving factor. We know the Charity helps out so many families, and if anything happened to my dad, I’d want the same help. Why not give back if I can?”
If you’re struggling with your physical or mental health, or you need support with your social wellbeing, we may be able to help you. Call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820, make an enquiry online or register for MyFFC and visit the ‘Access Support’ tab.
You can also join our ‘Share Your Story Group in MyFFC to chat to others who have received the Charity’s support, or enquire about sharing your own story.